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Oxfordshire to get special dispensation on local plan delivery

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The government is to explore creating “freedoms and flexibilities” in Oxfordshire to help support the county’s delivery of its housing and growth deal, the housing and communities secretary has announced.

Citing provisions laid out in paragraph 217 of the newly-updated national planning policy framework, James Brokenshire said the government will allow a “short term flexibility” to the delivery of local plans to help the authorities deliver the long term target of 100,000 new homes by 2031.

This will come in the form of “implementing a temporary change to housing land supply policies”, Mr Brokenshire said in a written statement. 

He said the government recognised the “ambitious plans in Oxford to deliver above their housing need in the long term”.

“We have therefore agreed to provide a short term flexibility which will support the delivery of the local plans for the area and ensure that the local authorities can focus their efforts on their joint spatial strategy,” Mr Brokenshire said. “The government recognises that in the short term this will result in fewer permissions being granted under paragraph 11 of the national planning policy framework but the government believes that it is important to support these ambitious plans that will deliver more housing in the longer term.”

The government agreed to the Oxfordshire housing and growth deal in March, which created construction targets of 100,000 extra homes by 2031, supported by £215m of government funding.

Paragraph 217 of the NPPF reads: “The government will continue to explore with individual areas the potential for planning freedoms and flexibilities, for example where this would facilitate an increase in the amount of housing that can be delivered.”

Mr Brokenshire said the change would take effect immediately and remain in place until the joint spatial plan is adopted, although the secretary of state will monitor progress and “keep the planning flexibility… under review”.

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